If you locked it down this year, you have lots of company: More than 2 million men give up bachelorhood annually in the United States, usually between March and November. While the honeymoon effect can linger for months, every couple, newlywed or not, should do periodic marriage maintenance, says psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men. That way, minor annoyances now won’t blow up into big problems down the road. So whether you’re recently hitched or have been tethered 10 years, watch for these roadblocks on the highway to happily ever after.
Negotiate the Nest
THE SNAG: Women tend to prioritize the overall aesthetic of the home rather than picking specific areas, says Dr. Haltzman. She may even try to use the decor as a way to define the home as her domain.
YOUR PLAY: Look for ways to express yourselves individually—say, by each choosing a room to make your own, suggests Sam Gosling, Ph.D., author of Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You.
Deal with Debt
THE SNAG: Debt is a drag—more so if you both carry that baggage. And arguments over money tend to be intense, according to a study in Family Relations. So create a payoff plan—together.
YOUR PLAY: Set off a snowball effect: Pay the smallest debt first, says Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover. Then roll your extra cash into the next-largest one, and so on.
Respect Her Folks
THE SNAG: The in-laws may hover, but be nice: In a University of Michigan study, men who were close with their wives’ parents early in marriage were less likely to wind up divorced after 16 years.
YOUR PLAY: Look for their talents. Is her dad a gifted griller? Her mom a tax whiz? Tap that expertise—they’ll feel involvedand stay out of your hair in other areas, says Dr. Haltzman.
Stir Up the Sex
THE SNAG: Her libido may wane, says Dr. Haltzman. Typically it’s nothing to worry about, but beware: Unfair distribution of chores might be to blame, a study in theAmerican Sociological Review suggests.
YOUR PLAY: Mix it up. Pretend you’re single and hit on each other at a bar. “It creates a sense of mystery, challenge, and uncertainty that some couples start to miss,” Dr. Haltzman says.
THE SNAG: Work. Dinner. Netflix. Sound familiar? Maybe it’s time to shake things up. “Couples need to cultivate a spirit of curiosity,” says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a relationship therapist in New York City.
YOUR PLAY: Do some scheming. A study in Applied Research in Quality of Life found that making vacation arrangements boosts happiness; the same may be true for planning your nights out.
Plan for Kids
THE SNAG: Men tend to be more inclined than women to postpone parenthood until they know they can support a family financially, says psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author ofThe Power of Two.
YOUR PLAY: Make a joint decision. List the ups (love!) and downs (chaos!) of kids, Dr. Haltzman says. Next list near- and long-term goals. “Then layer in where a baby might fit,” he says.
Source: Men’s Health